CHOKE CHAINS: Cairo Scholars: 7”

All the world’s a garage, and all the men and women merely players in a million garage bands… or so it often feels, as the loosely defined genre continues to dominate the musical landscape. Different groups may integrate surf sounds, dabble in shoegaze, or go full ‘70s throwback, but the current glut of garage rock often leaves me scrambling to find synonyms for “lo-fi,” “fuzz,” and, well, “garage”—the internet recommends “car shed.” Luckily, Grand Rapids four-piece, Choke Chains, sound less like a band intentionally adopting a lo-fi, fuzzed-out, garage aesthetic and more like a band who just feel most at home playing between your mom’s 1984 Chrysler LeBaron and a giant stack of paint cans. The A side of this translucent orange 7” single, “Cairo Scholars,” is dark and weird and raucous and catchy, at once evoking punk, goth, psych, noise, and, yeah, garage. The bass is menacing, the drums are tight, the guitar hangs back only to descend into churning chaos during the track’s denouement, and the vocals chomp and tear while sustaining a too-cool-for-this-shit attitude. Side B houses a toothy, grimy cover of The Deviants’ “Billy the Monster” that preserves the original’s creepy atmosphere, while carefully excising its more circus-y inclinations. Choke Chains’ reverence for their forebears—namely the Stooges—is clear, but communicated through their swagger, not cheap mimicry. –Kelley O’Death (Hound Gawd!, [email protected], houndgawd.com)